Magpie Visits Saint Lucy at the Convent for Retired Nuns

by Stella Reed


Legend says it was Waxwings
that plucked out Saint Lucy’s eyes.
She still carries them around on a platter
like an offering of deviled eggs.

Magpie visits at dawn
while the old nuns finish matins,
their nervous song begging
to be eaten by the sun.

The white tip of Lucy’s cane
finds the hallways best in early light.
After prayers the others aren’t so likely
to hide it from her.

They’ve grown more cruel with age,
switch her denture tablets
with Easter egg dye,
fill empty shampoo bottles

with Nair.
Agatha is the worst,
proffering her breasts
like petit fours at tea.

Magpie picks at the pits
and stems strewn on the lawn
from the ladies’ cherry fest,
sees the white awful flesh

of a hatchling blown from its nest
spilled on the flagstone.
Trails of ants make it theirs
piece by bitten and carried piece.

Magpie knows how a butterfly in empathy
will turn the same shade as the leaves
of the branch where it sits.

She perches on Lucy’s shoulder,
pecks at the dandruff,
a black habit.

STELLA REED is the co-author of We Are Meant to Carry Water, 2019, 3: A Taos Press along with Tina Carlson and Katherine DiBella Seluja. She is the 2018 winner of the Tusculum Review chapbook contest for Origami, judged by Emilia Phillips and took 3rd place in the Baltimore Review’s winter poetry contest in 2020. Stella teaches poetry to women in domestic violence and homeless shelters through WingSpan Poetry Project in Santa Fe, NM. You can find her work in The Bellingham Review, American Journal of Poetry, Tahoma Literary Review, SWWIM, anthologized in They Said, Black Lawrence Press, and elsewhere. She holds and MFA from New England College.

Photo: “Magpie” by Brad Smith